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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Population pharmacokinetics of remifentanil in infants and children undergoing cardiac surgery

Wai Johnn Sam1, Gregory B Hammer2 and David R Drover1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Anesthesia, Stanford University, Stanford, California USA

2 Department of Anesthesia and Pediatrics, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA

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BMC Anesthesiology 2009, 9:5  doi:10.1186/1471-2253-9-5

Published: 27 July 2009

Abstract

Background

The aim of this study was to provide a model-based analysis of the pharmacokinetics of remifentanil in infants and children undergoing cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB).

Methods

We studied nine patients aged 0.5 to 4 years who received a continuous remifentanil infusion via a computer-controlled infusion pump during cardiac surgery with mildly hypothermic CPB were studied. Arterial blood samples taken prior to, during and after CPB were analyzed for remifentanil concentrations using a validated gas-chromatographic mass-spectrophotometric assay. We used population mixed-effects modeling to characterize remifentanil pharmacokinetics. The final model was evaluated by its predictive performance.

Results

The pharmacokinetics of remifentanil was described by a 1-compartment model with adjustments for CPB. Population mean parameter estimates were 1.41 L for volume of distribution (V) and 0.244 L/min for clearance. V was increased during CPB and post-CPB to 2.41 times the pre-CPB value. The median prediction error and the median of individual median absolute prediction error were 2.44% and 21.6%, respectively.

Conclusion

Remifentanil dosage adjustments are required during and after CPB due to marked changes in the V of the drug. Simulations indicate that a targeted blood concentration of 14 ng/mL is achieved and maintained in 50% of typical patients by administration of an initial dose of 18 μg remifentanil followed by an infusion of 3.7 μg/min before, during and post-CPB, supplemented with a bolus dose of 25 μg given at the start of CPB.